Metro Expects Silver Line Riders by End of 2013
MWAA expects to complete construction in late summer and turn the rail line over to Metro.
Among a series of interesting tidbits to come from Thursday’s Committee for Dulles meeting in Ashburn was a clue about when the first passengers will be able to ride Metro’s Silver Line, a 23-mile extension of the rail system from East Falls Church to Ashburn.
The project previously was broken into two phases. Phase one, from East Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue in Reston, is nearing completion as the second phase, from Wiehle to Ashburn, begins moving forward.
There are really two important dates coming up for the project's first phase: completion of construction and the day passengers begin riding.
“We will be completing the work in late summer,” said Marcia McAllister, a spokeswoman for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. DCMR became part of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority during the administration of now-U.S. Sen. and then-Gov. Tim Kaine.
Once completed, MWAA will turn the project over to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which operates Metro. That turnover requires some legal paperwork that will take a little time, and then Metro will conduct tests for 60 to 90 days and train operators.
“Sometime round the end of the calendar year is when we’ll announce the date,” said Jim Hughes, a WMATA representative, who followed up with a slightly more specific assertion. “It really opens for riders by the end of the calendar year.”
Hughes explained the line would run east beyond East Falls Church, continuing through downtown and all the way to Maryland. Riders will not have to exit trains and transfer lines at East Falls Church, he said.
He also said trains would run every six minutes, rather than every seven minutes as initially anticipated, equating to approximately one more train per hour at key times, he said. Hours of operation will be the same as the rest of the Metro system.
To accommodate the Silver Line trains, Hughes said, fewer trains will operate along the Blue Line in Arlington and on the Orange Line between East Falls Church and Vienna.
“They’ll get less service. That’s what’s going to come out of that,” Hughes said, referring to the some Blue Line stations and Vienna. “Those are the negative impacts.”
McAllister said preliminary construction work, "most likely utility relocation," would begin later this year for the second phase. MWAA is awaiting detailed proposals from five potential contractors hoping to build phase two.
[Correction: The new portion of what will be the Silver Line extends from East Falls Church. The initial article was incorrect. Trains will continue beyond East Falls Church through DC to Maryland.]